I: Innovation of aesthetics

Aesthetics of sport: Its framework

This chapter deals with “the aesthetics of sport” that was my career’s starting point, concerning what it is, the history of its research, the context of its research, and its systematic structure.

What is the aesthetics of sport?

In a Japanese dictionary such as Kojien (sixth cd., Iwanami Publisher)1, the word bigaku [aesthetics] is defined as “a discipline that investigates the essence and the structure of beauty in nature and art.” The dictionary also states that bigaku is a translation of the French word esthétique by Chomin Nakae, a Japanese scholar. Furthermore, the dictionary gives the word another meaning, that is, “A peculiar sense of values and concern about beauty,” and offers an example of its usage in “bigaku in leaving.” The former indicates that aesthetics is an academic discipline, while the latter gives aesthetics a definition for daily use. The latter usage would be common for ordinary people; for example, a peculiar sense of values concerning beauty could be represented in the phrase “aesthetics of Japan.” There is also an example concerning sports in “the aesthetics of Ichiro.” As is well known, Ichiro was a Major League Japanese superstar baseball player.

The aesthetics in “the aesthetics of sport” here has the former meaning of an academic discipline. If the latter meaning is adopted, it would refer to a subject of aesthetics as an academic discipline. Academic aesthetics was brought into Japan at the beginning of the Mciji Period. Thereafter, an academic unit of aesthetics was established at the University' of Tokyo and at the University' of Kyoto, where the study of aesthetics was developed. We can observe the outline of the discipline in Cyclopedia of Aesthetics, the first edition published in 1961 and the expanded edition published in 1974, by the Japanese Society of Aesthetics.2

This cyclopedia discussed the history of aesthetics from the beginning: the birth of aesthetic thoughts in ancient Greece; Plato’s aesthetics; Aristotle’s theory' of art; Plotinus’ aesthetics; aesthetics of the late classical antiquity, the medieval period, the Renaissance, and the early modern times; Baumgarten and his successors; the German art criticism in the eighteenth century' (Winckelmann, Lessing. Harman, Herder, and Goethe); aesthetics of criticism (Kant and Schiller); art views of Romanticism; aesthetics of German idealism (Schelling,

Solger, Schleiermacher, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Fischer, and Hartman); aesthetics of realistic formalism; the experimental aesthetics; and aesthetics of empathy (Lipps and Volkclt). This cyclopedia also traced the history' of the science of arts, aesthetics of the neo-Kantians (Windelband, Rickert, Cohn, Kreis, Kuhn, Christiansen, Cohen, and Gotland), aesthetics of the philosophy of life (Dilthey, Nohl, and Simmel), aesthetics as the science of expression (Croce); aesthetics of phenomenologists (Brentano, Meinong, Husserl, Hamann, Geiger, Liitzeler, Meckaucr, Odebrecht, Merleau-Ponty, and Dufrenne), and ontological aesthetics (Hartmann, Heidegger, Jaspers, and Becker). Furthermore, the cyclopedia discussed French aesthetics after the nineteenth century, Anglo-American aesthetics, and Russian-Soviet aesthetic thought.3 Through this cyclopedia, we can grasp an outline of the history' of aesthetics in the world and the thoughts of many' thinkers.

Apart from tracing the history' of aesthetics, the cyclopedia also discussed the system of aesthetics by giving careful explanations of the basic concepts of aesthetics, such as the aesthetic, aesthetic consciousness, aesthetic object, and aesthetic category'. Moreover, the book contained a section on the specific sciences of arts: science of art, musicology', science of literature, science of theatre, and filmology. At the end, there was a section on art education as well. This cyclopedia also took the problems of art education at school into consideration.4

From the late 1970s to the 1980s, I grappled with the discipline of the aesthetics of sport through a systematic consideration, which was the mainstream approach in the 1960s and 1970s in Japan. The aesthetics of sport is an aesthetics that sets sport as the object of consideration. My' aesthetics of sport was developed in the framework of theories developed by Toshio Takeuchi and Tomonobu Imamichi, who were the leading scholars of aesthetics in Japan at the time, with reference to the Western aesthetics of Plato, Heidegger, and others.

Sport could not be regarded, however, as a topic of aesthetics in the tradition of the discipline traced by' the cyclopedia. My project, therefore, must be an innovation of aesthetics. I could not openly state the innovation of aesthetics when I was writing the dissertation titled “A Philosophical Inquiry' into the Aesthetic of Sport” in the early' 1980s. After publishing my' dissertation as a book, The Aesthetics of Sport? in 1987,1 reflected on my' research objectively' and was able to declare the innovation of aesthetics by' referencing Shusterman’s somaesthetics for the innovation of aesthetics.6 In this circumstance, the aesthetics of sport was considered as a form of the innovation of aesthetics similar to the status of Shusterman’s somaesthetics.

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